Pork is good. In all forms. The more the merrier. Pork belly, pork shoulder, pork chops, pork loin, pork ribs, pulled pork. The smell of pork fat charring, burning above heated charcoal is what heaven would smell like.
For those who know, pig’s feet is a cut above. Chewy, gelatinous texture of the outer layer, followed by soft and aromatic meat. You taste the entire animal in a single bite. If you don’t like it, you haven’t tried it done right. If you haven’t tried it, get out there.
On a nonchalant afternoon, a friend and I ran into a Chinese version of this delicacy during a second lunch (the first course, banh mi, wasn’t quite filling). Totally out of the blue. My friend suggests we hit up a nice sit-down Chinese joint just across the street, and tells me of their pig’s feet. The dish wasn’t even on the menu, but my friend worked his magic with the waitress, and there it was, glistening, smothered in hot chili oil and spices, tossed with fresh green onions.
The generous slices of pig’s feet were served chilled. But not to worry, it’s actually better that way. Pig gelatin is on a plateau of its own, maintaining its distinct gummy texture and just slightly absorbing the heat of the chili oil and bite of the Chinese spices. A bowl of steaming white rice and hot and sour soup is all you need. Take a sip of the soup, grab pig’s feet, lay on top of steaming rice, and partake. Enough said.
Table to my right has a spread of vegetable fried rice and sweet and sour something. Table to my left has beef and broccoli and fried wontons. I love the feeling when heads turn to see what the server is bringing to your table. What the hell are they having, they will ask. What, no sweet and sour something? No veggie fried rice? No, you say, this is the real deal, the local stuff, what the emperor would have killed to have.
I don’t even remember the name of this dish. Hell, it took two different waitresses to figure out what my friend was saying in his incoherent Mandarin. But whatever it is, it’s absolutely delicious, definitely worth multiple followup trips.
Pig’s feet at its finest.